Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

June 23, 2012

A Lost Thimble and Texas Reporters

Filed under: At home,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 9:45 pm

I’m cleaning off the desk, a never-ending task, and looking more closely through items my “cousin” Barbara sent me last week. I put “cousin” in quotations because she’s more of a friend than a cousin to me. I only know her through Facebook and emails. She was married to my Dad’s cousin Don, and I did know Don, but I never met Barbara. They lived overseas while he was in the military and a pilot and then after he died, she remarried and lived in Memphis, Tennessee.

I scanned an article she sent and I will put it below if you’d like to read it, but I’ll tell it with more detail, though it is a story I had never heard before.

Aunt Ruby was Barbara’s mother-in-law. She was my grandmother’s older sister. She was very sweet and lively and funny.  She kept some records of her life that I appreciate so much. She wrote out in longhand her life’s story and I am fortunate enough to have a copy of it.

In this newspaper article, it tells about Aunt Ruby when she was about 14 and the family lived in the Killeen area of Bell County. This was 1914. Her father, Houston Puckett, asked her to go into town with him to buy a birthday gift for his mother. His mother lived in Robert Lee, which is further up in West Texas. The whole family had lived up in that area for a time, but Houston Puckett liked to move around and buy a piece of undeveloped property, build a house, well, and windmill, and then sell and make a profit. So they had moved back and forth from Bell to Runnells County a couple of times.

They made this trip into town and found a pretty silver thimble at a jewelry store. They had it engraved with “M” for Mary (Mary Victoria Riggs Puckett Newman) and sent it to the grandmother.

When “Grandma Newman” died in 1928 (she’s buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Winters, Texas), Aunt Ruby was now married to Uncle Tom Spencer and living in Luther in Howard County, Texas, where most of the Pucketts ended up. She inherited the thimble. One day she was working with the Home Demonstration Club in the Gay Hill Community. The group would meet at the school and make mattresses and comforters for people in need. Somehow she lost her thimble and that was the last time she remembered using it.

Years go by and her sons, Neil and Don, both graduate from Big Spring High and have families of their own. Aunt Ruby and Uncle Tom moved to Comanche County and lived just across the road from my big family reunion grounds. But that’s a whole different side of the family so that’s another story.

Neil Spencer, Ruby’s oldest son, married Jeri and she had a son “Skipper.” I love that name. I think he goes by a more dignified name now that he is all grown up and makes dentures in his lab in Dallas, but he was Skipper to everyone most of his life and I wouldn’t be surprised if he still is to some. He is to me (though I haven’t seen him in many decades).

One day Aunt Ruby and Uncle Tom went back to visit Neil and Jeri who were now living in Luther. Aunt Ruby needed to repair something while they were there so Jeri brought out her sewing box and Aunt Ruby said, “Where did you find my thimble?”

Turns out that Skipper had been playing in the area where the old Gay Hill School had been. It was torn down by then. He found something shiny and brought it home to his mother. It was the thimble from 1914 and was not even mashed or scratched. Having been lost for about 25 years, the thimble found its rightful owner again.

I don’t know who in the family has the thimble now. Aunt Ruby died just a few years after this article was written. She died in 1983. I hope the thimble is with Skipper’s daughter now.


I went looking for the author of this article. I don’t know what newspaper this was in, but most likely a paper out there in West Texas. I found this video on the web of her speaking. She is quite a newspaper woman.

I have pictures of Aunt Ruby and Uncle Tom to scan. They were sweet people and Uncle Tom was everything you think of when you think of a long tall Texas oilman or maybe cowboy. He always said I was the “tall statuesque” one while my sister was the “short cute” one. We both liked our descriptions.

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